May 1st 2015
When I was a student in Oxford, May Day was one of the highlights of the year, just because for one silly day everyone went bananas. If you have ever spent so much as a day in an Oxford college, you'll understand how unusual that is. If you have ever sat at dinner night after night in those hallowed halls, you'll understand that bananas are not even on the menu.
But long before the university town of Oxford was founded, there was the pagan town of Oxenforde worshipping at the feet of the goddess Frige. There are still some archeological remains of her sacred places buried beneath the roads and colleges that were built to rout the sacred woman out. Oxford was into routing women out for many centuries, until it became too un-pc to sustain. But it is still a male bastion. There are still too many bastards. But that's why May Day was invented. In the pagan calendar it is Beltane - and you'll have to read the sequel to Veil Of Time if you want to find out what our pagan ancestors got up to on the festival of Beltane, and what happens to my female protagonist when she follows the green man to a Mayday fire festival. In brief, Beltane had to do with fertility, the celebration of new life after a frozen sodden winter in your wool rags with not much to eat either.
No wonder May Day means "Help!" Actually, that usage comes from the French, "Venez m'aider!" so nothing to do with bananas at all. I hate bananas, cannae stand 'em. Can't stand the smell of them. I suppose Freud would a have a heyday with that. But everyone going bananas once a year was the one sigh of relief in my whole Oxford experience. Help!
I wasn't about to jump off Magdalene bridge into the River Cherwell at 5am in the morning, but I wasn't able either to become a cog in the blue-blood machinery. My blood wasn't blue, for one thing - just tartan, I suppose. I bought the Oxford bike and the gown and cap and I attended tutorials with my near-dead tutor. But the drummer was nowhere near. The drum I was moving to even in those far off days lived on a hill where the rowan bent down to the chattering stream. The wind in my head was much too loud to let in the litanies of an emasculated priesthood.